We’re a month out from the opening but I want to acknowledge all the work done to get us to where we are today. We’ve come a long way from an empty shell in late August to our open house Oct. 18. The amount of work done both by employees of the Maker Lab and volunteers, or “owner operators,” is amazing. Nil Santana, for example, even brought his family to help finish up the marvelous window treatment the night before opening.

So, here’s a glimpse of what it took, and in line with our belief that people are the most important part of a maker space, the people who made it happen.

Nil Santana, in addition to teaching his packaging design course in the Lab, designed our logo and complete visual identity. He’s taken it from start to finish, creating three dimensional renditions on our laser cutter that are folded from a cut, scored piece of cardboard. These are handy little puzzles that let potential makers participate in the making process. He also designed a custom iPhone cover from an adhesive-backed wood laminate that we gave away to the first 50 visitors at the opening. His entire family came with him to do final work on the long bank of windows, cutting the words on the vinyl cutter and laser cutter and attaching them to the windows. Nil fits perfectly the profile of a maker who sees a problem and fixes it, who volunteers to not only make the space better but to help others more effectively utilize tools and equipment.

Lyndell Lee has been largely responsible for researching and ordering primary equipment such as the laser cutter, 3D printer and CNC router and then enthusiastically setting these machines up, and learning how and helping others to use them. He selected, hired and supervises our student employee makers, is building the initial training modules, and can been seen at all hours of the day, night and weekends helping others with projects. He is an indispensable part of the Lab.

Brandon Young has worked with us this semester through a course-load reduction and has given the equivalent of those hours multiple times over already. He has served as our departmental liaison and is a key member of a couple of teams working on such projects as Ro Diaz’s 3D-enhanced painting and Jeremy Elliott’s guitar (to complement Darby Hewitt’s tube amp project). And, to confirm a trend that you’ve seen starting with Nil and Lyndell, Brandon is quick to offer help and expertise. He is also using his experience as an architect to help us forge a longer-term vision for the Lab.

Kyle Dickson heads up the Learning Studio, and along with Nathan Driskell and Matt Bardwell, created the film that got this all started, “We Are Makers.” Since then, they have created three short videos chronicling the Lab’s work with Ro Diaz, an alum and professional artist with a substantial following, and the work of Maker Lab partner and ACU alum Jordan Williams, owner of the startup Captured Dimensions, the first and only photogrammetry firm in the country. Kyle has also lead the creation of the blog with Nathan Driskell providing primary design and implementation work. Kyle and the Learning Studio have provided insight and leadership on the nature and strategic needs of a makerspace and have made numerous contacts that provided us national venues to tell the Maker Lab story.

Chad Longley has taken on many, many tasks in getting the facility ready, purchasing, soliciting donations, and refinishing equipment, tools and furnishings. He has also worked on safety issues and is our general go-to guy for all kinds of tasks around the facility.

Megan May and Camille Dickson have completely taken charge of the fiber arts section, specifying machinery and materials, organizing and setting up the space and inviting students to participate in the open house. As with others, they have volunteered their time and energies and provide a whole area of interest we wouldn’t have otherwise.

We’ve had generous funding from the Library, the Provost and the College of Arts and Sciences as well as critical input regarding safety and operational issues from the Engineering and Physics department, a key funding partner of the Lab. Engineering and Physics also teaches labs in the largest lab space. Jeff Arrington has been an important liaison to CAS and Engineering and Physics and through his extensive institutional experience in various roles has brought insight and partnership to the construction and ongoing operation of the Lab.

Ro Diaz (rodiaz.com) and Jordan and Graeme Williams (captureddimensions.com) are important alumni partners and have visited ACU several times to share expertise and participate in projects. They drove from the DFW area to be with us for the open house and showed inspiring work that illustrates the diversity and creativity of the maker movement.

Finally, John Weaver, our executive sponsor and the originator of the drive to create the Lab, has been tireless in fund raising, raising awareness of the need for a maker space, promotion both inside and outside the University, and an advocate for thinking bigger and more broadly than we would have otherwise.

We’re open. Come in and make something!

Visitors register on the vintage Underwood typewriter with output to an iPad.


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